I have absolutely zero experience with swede, the vegetable. I am not familiar with it & and i honestly can’t say i have ever seen or at least ever noticed it on any South African vegetable shelf in any supermarket or farm stall visited (until Monday). The poor thing. But, you have to love how when you read about something, your attention is drawn to it, & you begin to see it everywhere. Well, this is exactly what happened to me & swede. After some night time, in bed reading of a certain cookery book, a quick study on swede led me to notice it the very next day on the supermarket shelf, miraculously just sitting there. Well, i think it was swede. It looked just like turnip, except for the fact that the edges of the bulb had been trimmed (by who knows) into some strange angular point. As strange as this might seem, it was for this reason that it got my attention, along with a slight, distinguishing yellowish tinge & on closer inspection (the label said so) i realized i had found me some swede. Incredible!
However, when looking at the bunch i brought home, it still looked a lot like turnip. I still wasn’t completely convinced about the true identity of this vegetable. I really couldn’t say if this was genuine swede. It looked nothing like the gnarly, elongated roots featured in my previous night’s reading. But then, it said so on the label, so it must be swede! I guess all i could do was cook it up and eat it.
Swede with Onions & Bacon
Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 1 was my reference for this unfamiliar vegetable. He has a few ideas about how to cook up a swede which is useful. Swedes are like most root vegetables, quite versatile and more about being a side dish than the main feature of a meal. Roasted, braised, mashed, the options are many. I decided on cooking them up with buttery, garlicky onion & then topped with crispy bacon & parsley. Whatever it was, swede or not, it was pretty tasty.
4 swede bulbs – peeled & cut into large chunks
1 large onion -peeled & finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled & crushed
pinch of sugar
2 generous knobs of butter
1 & 1/2 cups of chicken stock
6 strips of streaky bacon – cut into pieces & fried until crispy
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped italian parsley
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions & fry for a few minutes then add in the swede, sugar & garlic. Toss them around in the buttery onions then pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, put on a lid and cook the swede until soft & tender, but still holding it’s shape, about 25 minutes. You don’t want them falling apart. Remove the lid after about 12 minutes, to allow for the stock to reduce. Remove from the heat, scatter over the crispy bacon & parsley & serve.